Burma: Mongla to be reopened for tourists from Thailand

WEDNESDAY, 21 MARCH 2012 12:50 S.H.A.N.
Tourists coming from Thailand will soon be able to travel to Mongla on the Sino-Burmese border through the Maesai-Tachilek checkpoint, according to sources close to the Mongla leadership.

Mongla is roughly 240 km from Maesai. Tourism to Mongla, also known as Burma’s Las Vegas, was closed following tensions generated by Naypyitaw’s demand that all ceasefire groups become Burma Army-run Border Guard Forces (BGFs) in 2009.

The group signed a new ceasefire agreement on 7 September, after Naypyitaw guaranteed that the matter would not be pursued further.The Thai tourist industry had expected that the city would be reopened for tourism, after the signing, but the issue came to a standstill after the Burmese side demanded that tourists must use Burmese vehicles to travel inside Burma.

“The stalemate was broken at the meeting between Sai Leun, leader of Mongla, and President Thein Sein in Kengtung on 10 April,” confided a source.

Burmese authorities, after a 6-month deadlock, had decided to scrap the condition. “Its new condition is that tourists coming either from Thailand or China must spend a night in Kengtung (160 km from Maesai and 80 km from China’s Daluo),” he said.

Another source added reopening of Mongla is expected in April, when Burmese authorities have appointed immigration officials to the Daluo-Mongla border checkpoint.

Mongla’s sources of revenue include casinos, mining, agricultural investments from China and tourism. Traffic is also expected to increase as the city is on the Asian highway network, connecting China’s Kunming and Jinghong with Burma’s Kengtung and Thailand’s Chiangrai.

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